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Upload campaign cost data into Google Analytics: a new free tool available

Import cost data into Google Analytics

Importing click and cost data for non-Google search engines and campaigns into  allows to compare performance data for Google and non-Google campaigns.

OWOX, a Partner, has created a free add-on that helps you quickly and easily import data from Google Sheets into Google Analytics. It is not the first tool for this scope, but it’s worth mentioning because it is free and easy-to-use.

Here are few simple steps to take to see your non-Google campaign cost data (for example Facebook Ads, Twitter, Linkedin or Bing Ads) into GA Views.

Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Create a Cost data schema on GA
  2. Download the schema (Excel template) as guidance. A typical format is:
    ga:datega:mediumga:sourcega:impressionsga:adClicksga:adCost
     ga:campaign ga:adGroup ga:adContent
  3. Export cost data from Facebook Ads
  4. Install the Google Chrome Add-On, it will be available on Google Sheet (you need to access with a Google account that has been granted GA editing rights)
  5. Copy and past FB cost data into Google Sheet making sure that it matches columns of the GA schema (point 2)
  6. Start the Add-On from the menu and upload

Once done, cost data will be visible under GA / Acquisition / Cost Data enabling interesting business metrics.

Two final notes:

If something goes wrong data can be re-uploaded, they will be overwritten.

The cost data has to be daily, and the format of its first column (date) needs to be yyyymmdd.

Last but not least, a perfect correspondence between Facebook Ads URL parameters (medium, source, campaign and content) and the cost data spreadsheet is needed to match data on Google Analytics. Differently, you will find a mismatch between uploaded metrics and Sessions. Ideally, you can add two columns for medium and source while for the others, it’s advised to use the same name both in the URL parameters and in the FB Ads level (for example Adgroup matching Ad set).

 

 

Google Adwords hint: add a free advertising space on Youtube videos through CTA-overlay

Youtube Call to Action CTA overlay

You have a account, and you have linked it to a account. Why don’t exploit the opportunity to get free Call-to-Action overlay link placed on your (s)?

If you have an AdWords for TrueView ad, you can now create overlays for video plays across (whether the video play is triggered by a video ad or not). The overlay will appear as soon as the video begins to play and can be closed by the user. You can use the overlay to share more information about the content of your video or to raise interest in your channel, other videos, or additional websites. When users click on the overlay, they are directed to your external website as specified in the overlay’s destination URL.

There is no additional charge for this feature.

CTAs currently remain on the video for as long as the video owner chooses, even if the video is no longer being promoted.

(Source: Google, March 2015)

Here I’m not talking of the recently launched Youtube Cards, six different type of overlays that can appear on the right area of your video. In fact, you can run both CTA-overlays and Cards, tracking them differently (e.g. using a different “medium” parameter like youtube-cta and youtube-card) to find out which link is generating more visits to your website.

CTA appear in the bottom-left, clicks are not charged, can be tracked and work even when you do not run any campaign. Here is an example:

Youtube CTA overlay free

Step-by-Step:

  1. Link Youtube and Google Adwords (from its Video advertising section)
  2. On Google Adwords, create a video ad using one of your Youtube videos (even with a very small Cost-per-view and daily budget and you can even pause the campaign immediately after)
  3. Go to Youtube Video Manager and you will find an extra-tab called “Call-to-Action overlay”.

You are allowed to add a small logo 70×70 (ideally with an arrow pointing right!) that can also be transparent and the link does not have to be contextual, in fact, it’s a small free advertising space – despite the more contextual it is, the higher your CTR will be.

Some negative aspects:

  • links are not auto-tagged therefore, you need to add URL parameters;
  • a Youtube account can be linked to one Adwords account per time – it is a problem when having many Adwords account (e.g. one per country or SBU) and only one Youtube account (e.g. a global repository for all corporate videos);
  • there is no automation available therefore to add/edit/remove any CTA-overlay you have to create a video campaign for each video where you want to add the CTA overlay, then edit every single video – if a Youtube account has too many videos, it’s worth adding a CTA-overlay only to the most popular, whilst the others are not expected to generate many visits .

About URL parameters that will allow to identify (on ) which channels/videos/campaigns are bringing more (qualified) visits to your site(s), the structure could be as follow:

  • source: youtube-channel (you can have many Youtube accounts linked to an Adwords account);
  • medium: video-cta-overlay;
  • content (optional): your-video (name or id);
  • campaign: here express something related to your cta that can be different than the video.

 

Top engagement drivers: how to get viral on Facebook

 

How to boost Facebook organic reach

Page Insights, among other things, help to identify what is the most engaging content for your audience. Some content gets viral, while other doesn’t get noticed at all.

Every content is a meme: some memes survive, going viral or being the source of new memes, while other doesn’t get noticed at all and disappear.

In this sense, are not only a memetic machine, with their constant production or reproduction of memes, but also a memetic cemetery (despite some memes of the past can always come back to life, under any circumstance).

This analysis is neither exhaustive nor definitive but tries to offer an overview over factors that affect the viral reach of Facebook posts, either on pages or profiles.

Results are summarised in the above scheme that is the outcome of frequent observations through different Facebook pages.

Why do we post?

The scheme starts from publisher’s intentions, either posting as an individual or for an organisation/brand.

Drivers of our publishing activity could be divided into three main, groups:

  1. Individualism – it tells how we feel or how we want to represent ourselves to the world (or, at least, our audience)
  2. Altruism – it is probably the most valuable content because it is aimed at creating/sharing value with the audience
  3. Opinion – this can be the outcome of either an individual attitude or a wish to start/join a conversation and affect the public opinion

Most of what we post contains elements of any of the above factors.

Content focus: individual vs. general

While Individualism can be categorised as material embedding a personal element and focusing on the poster (e.g. a selfie), the other two categories (Altruism and Opinion) relate to the external environment (e.g. tech, politics, sport, arts, science, culture in general, etc.).

Unless talking about VIP’s (including social stars, even in very narrow fields) or well-known brands that despite talking about themselves have a strong influence on the external environment, general content has more chances to get viral than the individual.

Engagement factors

The expected consequent actions (reactions) made by our audience, will increase the reach of our content: this is the viral effect, an enormous benefit because it does not cost anything, differently than promoted posts. Quality has value.

To get a high viral reach, it is important to engage people that are social stars, since their actions on your posts usually are more effective regarding reach, but, in general, every little helps.

  • Individualist content might be shared because of Empathy
  • Altruist content can be multiplied when it is perceived as Useful
  • Opinions tend to encourage Participation (either with a positive or negative feedback)

The actions that we expect from this are likes for an individualist content, share for a useful altruist content and comment for an opinion that drives participation.

How to categorise Facebook posts: some examples

We can try to attribute each content we see on Facebook to one of the following three categories and imagine what can be the expected reaction.

  • Individualism: selfies, feelings, travel, self-made content, etc.
  • Altruism: pets, recipes, reviews, guides, invitations, etc.
  • Opinion: politics, violence, VIPs, activism, etc.

Some content stays in between two or even all three categories. For example, a video clip of a song can be posted to represent a personal feeling (individualism) and at the same time to help other people discover that particular content (altruism) and express an opinion that reflects the lyrics (opinion).

Support for a political leader/movement or complaints towards a brand/company’s customer services can be categorised as opinions and can have a follow up made of supporting (or detracting) comments – and relative comment-likes and comment-tags.

A selfie is an individualist content, while an is (or, at least, try to be) an act of altruism that hopefully is perceived as useful and then multiplied by being liked and shared.

Affinity to your average audience increases engagement

Everyone has a different personality and Facebook knows that. Thinking of Lookalike audiences, we have to post with our audience in mind, more than content.

Knowing our audience enables to build an ideal average that should be our main content driver. The affinity of our content to our audience’s expectations is a core virality factor.

A Facebook Page with a very generic audience tends to have fewer occasions to gets its content viral due to high engagement-rate, while as opposite, content posted on a Page whose audience is very narrow and specialised can get viral with a high engagement-rate.

All factors count

Often many pages publish great content too generic and informative: its engagement-rate (and consequently its organic reach) will be very low.

Some content is too cold (for example a link to a technical guide) or too personal (for example a personal status about facts of little interest for the audience) or too introvert (something that nobody or very few people can understand or care of).

To get viral on Facebook, content need to be a mix of all factors proposed in the scheme [ individualism + altruism + opinion ] paying attention to audience’s closeness (including language and jargon) and possibly enriching text with hashtags if the content is about places, brands or trending topics.

Write your content (make it original), try to disseminate value – a strong factor, usually appreciated by your audience – and don’t forget to express your point of view because Facebook is a conversational platform after all.

Something missing: the dark side of analytics

Not all content is shared publicly. Therefore, its virality cannot be adequately measured. Often, good content is also multiplied by private messages (e.g. Facebook, Whatsapp, etc.), channels that cannot be tracked but still can increase reach, engagement, leads, conversions.

In fact, many of us are not willing to publicly share or comment anything, but it doesn’t mean that we are not interested in debating about with our best friend through private messages. We are not aware of what happen behind the wall unless we don’t start to track and read everyone’s private messages, but such amazing advanced tools apparently are available only to very few organisations/governments..

So don’t stick to what’s measurable, ignoring the dark side of analytics. What’s behind a “direct” source can be the outcome of your efforts.

The infographic is made mainly for Facebook, but can be useful also for content marketing in general and other social media platforms, in particular, Google+ and Twitter.

Feel free to download and share Facebook Engagement Factors (PDF)

Discrepancy between conversions on Google Analytics and Facebook advertising reports: VTC vs CTC

Digital Marketing Conversions

A digital customer journey: which channel will get (most of) the credit for a conversion? (Image credit: DigitSix.com)

Have you ever encountered a discrepancy between performance reports by channel and what’s reported by advertising platforms’ reports, for example, ? The former is usually less generous than the latter, and you don’t know who’s telling the truth, right?

Let’s imagine a situation when you have been running promoted posts through Facebook and the outcome has been ten conversions according to the Report (measured through the Facebook Conversion Pixel), four Assisted Conversions according to Google Analytics (Multi-Channel funnel report) and no Direct Conversion (still according to Google Analytics). What measure can be considered more reliable?

It depends on what you are trying to sell. If you want to know what is the best target audience, then go for the Facebook report. If you want to know what is the best channel to generate leads go for the Assisted Conversions report. Differently, if you are offering something that should not require much thinking before a conversion, then focus on the Direct Conversion report – where usually Search Marketing performs much better than , in particular if targeting branded keywords.. a quick win!

The difference is explained by the methodology adopted to identify a conversion: Google Analytics takes into account only CTC (Click-Through-Conversions) while other platforms in their reports also show (or only) VTC (View-Through-Conversions).

offers both options, but CTC (more meaningful for search marketing than for display) are deducted from VTC.

Some advertising platforms (like Adroll) make a clear distinction between the two measurement methods, while others (like Facebook) state it in a more subtle way:

Facebook (then) matches that conversion event against the set of people an ad was served to/or that clicked on an ad so that we can provide you with information that helps you understand the return on investment for your ad spend.“

(source: https://www.facebook.com/help/435189689870514)

However, even on Facebook, you can still compare both methods also on Facebook report through the Attribution Window settings (image above).

Facebook Advertising report: Attribution Window settings

Facebook Advertising Report: Attribution Window settings

 

Another aspect to consider is the time frame. Facebook offer three options: 1, 7 and 28 days, while in Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnel report you have 90 choices, from 1 to 90 days before conversion. Every platform has its options therefore if you don’t synchronise the method, you will get different results.

VTC methodology considers a digital channel like an offline channel (e.g. TV) since it takes into account all conversions completed after someone has seen an ad but has not clicked on it. Some way, it makes sense because a person might discover a brand or a product through a promoted post and still do not take any immediate action (e.g. click, comment, share, etc.) but search for it later through other channels.

Obviously, VTC is more generous towards the platform than CTC, which is a situation that requires the converted user to click on an ad, within a particular period of time. On Google Analytics, Multi-Channel Funnels take into account only CTC.

To make the story short, in a logic sequence, the highest performance regarding Conversion Rate, , , etc. is measured considering VTC, and then CTC (Multi-Channel) and eventually CTC (Direct or last-click).

Digital Conversions: VTC vs CTC

VTC will always include CTC

Digital agencies usually tend to show the best performance in their reports, but despite it might sound obvious to some people, it is always good to ask for a clear “legend” where it’s well explained what is intended by “conversion”.

The methodology applied should always be explicit and come before any attribution model. The best approach, therefore, is to produce different columns to outline the outcome of each methodology applied to determine conversions.

 

How to add a Facebook Conversion Pixels through Google Tag Manager

Facebook Pixel in Google Tag Manager

The right way to implement Facebook Pixel through Google Tag Manager

Facebook Conversions Pixels are great tools not just to monitor website or mobile apps conversions – those can also be controlled through after tagging URLs – but they are also one of the tools needed to optimise campaigns (e.g. cost per conversion) or to build Lookalike audiences (see image below) that tend to reduce your spending on Facebook advertising by creating target audiences made of users whose interests are similar to the ones of whoever has already reached a goal relevant to your business. On average I have noticed a conversion rate always higher than other generic audiences, sometimes even double.

Facebook Lookalike Audiences

To implement Facebook Conversion Pixels (FBCP) you have to create it for a particular Ads account activated in your site and populated with users info (it is said that you need at least 100 conversions to build a lookalike audience list). Once created it can be shared with other Ads Accounts and it can work for different Facebook Pages managed through the same Ads Accounts.

Google Tag Manager makes possible to add Conversion Pixels whenever and wherever you need, into any web page or mobile apps, depending on specific conditions. The Conversion Pixel has to be placed into the HEAD of your web page but, as you know, Google Tag Manager (GTM), has to be placed immediately after the opening BODY tag.

The question is: will Facebook Pixel works if implemented through a GTM Custom HTML tag?

The answer is yes! After implementing FBCP, you can check if it is working using the FB Pixel Helper, a free extension for Google Chrome.

Facebook Pixel inserted through Google Tag Manager is working (source: FB Pixel Helper, Google Chrome free extension)

Facebook Pixel inserted through Google Tag Manager is working (source: FB Pixel Helper, Google Chrome free extension)

NOTE – However, I have noticed that if “support for Document.Write” is not active for the HTML tag, the FB Pixel apparently takes longer to load – however, it still work – and the result is as follow:

GTM support document.write off

GTM support document.write off: FB Conversion Pixel takes too long to load

How to increase Facebook organic reach: content and audiences are two key factors

Facebook Organic Reach, October 2014

Organic Reach is still alive if content is interesting.

IS FACEBOOK ORGANIC REACH DEAD? Interesting insights by Kimanzi Constable in his post “5 Reasons Why Social-Media Marketing is Overrated“. However, I don’t take for granted his first assumption telling that “Organic reach is pretty close to zero” because evidence can show something different (see above screenshot). For example, I could still reach more than 20% through organic, in October 2014, way more than the 2.71% declared in the article.

SWITCHING TO PAID CONTENT – It is true that Facebook organic reach has been decreasing year after year, in parallel with the growing Facebook Ads market – Twitter to follow very soon – but organic reach can still have a relevant impact regarding engagement and conversions if wisely managed.

DON’T FORGET THE LONG TAIL – It is good to monitor content performance periodically but not constantly because the long tail should always be taken into account: posts’ reach is not always skewed. A good exercise is to identify and classify by topic and type the top performers, rather than posting like a machine. We are dealing with humans after all and our prospective customers don’t want to be overwhelmed with content that is not bringing them any real opportunity, inspiration or value in general. Patronising users’ expectations is still a good way to gain support, but apparently Facebook knows that such content is not valuable, but only aimed at generating a soft engagement (e.g. Likes) by confirming a point of view biassed in a particular custom audience.

CONTENT RULES – If you post too much content the average page engagement rate will decrease, also penalising good posts. Same if you target the wrong audience, therefore your activity has to be very focused or, if exploring new target audiences, modified. To reach new users, build your audience with paid content first, then play with free content later. Paid content has better targeting features than organic; you might guess why… Think of good content, use words and images that catch your target audience attention or inspire them, add relevant if needed and make your post length short (try to be under 90 characters). This way you can quickly increase your organic reach.

INSPIRE YOUR (VERY WELL TARGETED) AUDIENCE – Post content reminding about opportunities like competitions, free resources or local free events, using strictly geo-targeted audiences and city tags (sometimes adding photo of the most recognisable places): it will show a higher engagement rate and, in many cases also higher conversion rate when talking about business and the whole page will benefit, also gaining new likes for free. Sometimes users spread the work simply by tagging their friends in a comment on a post telling about exciting opportunities. Empower your current users by giving them the chance to spread the word of what you are offering them: they will be glad to contribute to your success.

QUALITY FIRST OF ALL – These facts lead to the conclusion that Facebook tends to boost the organic reach when the content sounds interesting/attractive/inspiring for its users, despite it has not been paid. Always ask the magic question: what’s in it for me?

TAG TO TRACK – Last but not least, in particular if you have an e-commerce or a site where you try to lead users: do not forget to add URL parameters when linking to your site or you won’t be able to track your social media content ROI on . Use standardised and meaningful tags for campaign, source, medium and, to go deeper, also content and, when moving from organic to paid, just update them through tools like the PowerEditor to measure differences in performance for the same content.

 

Did you know Google+ Ripples? It helps you monitor shares of a post on Google Plus

Google+ Ripples

+ Ripples for a very popular post by Matt Cuts: “The decay and fall of guest blogging for

UPDATE: Google+ Ripples has been terminated on 20th May 2015.

 

Last 20 January, the Google webspam team leader Matt Cutts posted about decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO. Whatever he says in his blog sound like the Bible for the SEO industry. Despite some times (like the above case) he might change his mind.

The above screenshot taken directly from Google+ Ripples shows the public shares of such popular post on Google+.

Google+ Ripples (in Italian Google+ Eco) creates an interactive graphic of the public shares of any public post or URL on Google+ to show you how it has rippled through the network and help you discover new and interesting people to follow.

Ripples shows you:

  • Who has publicly shared a post or URL and the comments they’ve made
  • How a post or URL was shared over time
  • Statistics on how a post or URL was shared

A link to Ripples for web pages / posts shared through Google+ is now available also in under “Acquisition / Social / Data Hub Activity”

Google+ Ripples accessible directly through Google Analytics

Google+ Ripples accessible directly through Google Analytics

You can see Ripples for each post just by adding its URL at the end of this one, in your browser bar:

https://plus.google.com/ripple/details?url=_________

and SEO are getting closer day by day and guest blogging apparently is decreasing in popularity – if Matt has said so, it’s true.

Let’s imagine a link between number of shares and author(ship) rank for each of such shares. It would certainly give an idea of the weight of such an important ranking factor like Google+ activity.

Here is my Google+ Author Rank measured with the experimental tool by Virante that calculates a score based on the content linked to my Google+ profile via Authorship. It does not currently include any measure of authority due to my actions within Google+.

Google+ Author Rank

Google+ Author Rank

You can monitor Author Rank for any of your (Google+) friends.

UPDATE: Google+ Ripples has been terminated on 20th May 2015.

New screen for GA Goals set up

New Conversion Goal setup interface on Google Analytics

Many people do not set up Goals on their Analytics account. That’s a shame, because despite not having an website, Goals help them to 1) deep dive into the most challenging side of the analytics world (where the magic rule is learning by doing) and 2) learn more about a website, in a consistent way.

To track Goal , some users limit their efforts to placing the tracking coming from their ads platform. Not bad, but not even comprehensive as it could be setting up GA Goals.

Google Analytics has just refreshed its Conversion Goals setup screen adding some standardised categories that are self-explanatory about what Goals are: good move for newbies.

New screen for GA Goals set up

GA brings more clarity around Goals

After choosing the type of Goal in Step 1 (e.g. create an account or make a payment or whatever you like, see figure 1 above) you might be surprised to find the following four standard categories in Step 2. Nothing magic then, the new interface has just been designed to assist users in creating new Goals.

Describe your Goal...

Describe your Goal…

Finally, on Step 3, you setup your Goal details. For example, if you have chosen Play a video in Step 1, you will end up in events (you need to configure your media player properly in order to send events data to GA).

Set up a Goal corresponding to an event

Set up a Goal corresponding to an event

Look carefully at the last row before the buttons: Verify this Goal. That is a very useful tool to check if something is worth (or is wrong). If your Goal bring 0 despite you expect something you might go back and check something – usually you need to adjust URL’s or Event variables. Pay attention when using RegEx and always test before being sure that everything is ok.

Now, I’d like to express a critique to this new approach. As you all know, GA allows 5 Goals for each of the 4 Goal Sets that make up to 20 Goals in the free GA (well, the premium version doesn’t have any limit but that’s another story).Unfortunately it is not possible anymore to assign Goals to particular Goal Sets as it used to be before the change. Goals are assigned sequentially, making very difficult – or impossible in some cases – to group them in Sets depending on their nature.

If you are tracking transactions (completed), remember to opt for E-commerce tracking – if possible. To setup Ecommerce tracking you need to add some variables just on the page where the transaction is confirmed (usually a thank-you page). It’s fundamental to have a unique ID for each transaction, that might contain one or more products. Some values are optional, others are compulsory. If you are managing Google Analytics Tracking Conversion (GATC) through Google Tag Manager, then you need to use data-layers instead (and the code slightly changes).

Finally, if for some reasons you cannot setup you can still add just Goal value to the transaction page. Just avoid to add both Goal values and Ecommerce revenue or you might end up in doubling your revenues… unfortunately only on GA!