The Internet Marketing Driver: Glenn Gabe's goal is to help marketers build powerful and measurable web marketing strategies.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Microsoft Outlook Rule That Can Save Your Job, How to Delay Your Email by 1 Minute

Setting up a rule in Outlook to delay your emails.This isn’t necessarily a marketing-focused blog post, but I guess that’s based on how you interpret it. If you consider having to market yourself “marketing”, then I guess it still fits my blog! There are times I’ll write about something that I think can be extremely valuable for my readers, even if it’s not directly internet marketing related. This is definitely one of those times and topics. Read on, I have a feeling you won’t regret it.

When Technology Gives You a Minute to Think About Your Message
Email communications can be tough. You obviously can’t see body language or hear tone from the other person involved, which often leads to messages being misinterpreted. For example, is the person joking, serious, a mixture of both, etc? And, you can’t a have real-time exchange which can lead to resolving conflict before it escalates (like if someone could see that you were not happy with their last sentence, they might change the way they are communicating their message). In addition, since the person you are communicating with via email isn’t in front of you, you might feel the need to respond as quickly as possible, which might be rushed and not exactly worded the way you wanted it to (and I’m being nice here…) I think everyone has been in that situation, and it’s easy for an exchange of emails to get out of control. It’s human nature.

So if you are nodding right now in agreement with me, then have I got the solution for you! I learned something about 3 years ago that was so simple, yet brilliant. I saw immediately how it could curb some of the knee-jerk reactions we all experience with email and I’d like to share this tip with you today. And yes, it could actually save your job one day (or save relationships with coworkers, clients, partners, etc.) I actually introduce this tip to anyone that works for me, which they probably end up using when responding to emails from me! ;-) And just to be clear, I'm not saying that I'm perfect at handling email communications...this tip just helps.

The Outlook Rule That Can Save Your Job in 8 Easy Steps
I’ll get to the point and then quickly explain how to set this up. The simple, yet brilliant tip I picked up is to create a rule in Outlook that delays your email by 1 minute (or whatever timeframe you feel is right). This enables you to delay your potentially rushed, rash, rude, biting, retaliatory emails for a short period of time before being sent. That just might be enough time for you to think through what you just wrote and then refine it before it gets sent. I’ve found this rule to be an extremely valuable one to have in place.

Let’s set up a delay in Outlook in 8 easy steps:
1. Open Outlook and click the Tools menu, and then select Rules and Alerts.
2. Click the Create New Rule button.
3. Then start with a blank rule (for me this option is at the bottom of the window). Choose "Check messages after sending". See below.

Microsoft Outlook Rule, check messages after sending.

4. Click next and don’t check any of the conditions listed (since you want every email to be delayed).

Microsoft Outlook Rule, skip conditions.

5. Click next and then click the checkbox for "defer delivery by a number of minutes" at the bottom of the conditions list. When you click the checkbox, the rule shows up in a window below the actions list where you can edit the rule. Click the text, "a number of" to enter the delay. I use 1 minute, but you can use any number of minutes you like.

Microsoft Outlook Rule, defer delivery by a number of minutes.

6. Click next and don’t check any of the exceptions listed.
7. Click next one more time and enter a name for your rule, maybe something like “Email Review Zone”. :-)
8. Then make sure “Turn on this rule” is checked. Then click Finish.

That’s it, you should be good to go. Send a test email and make sure that you see the email sitting in your Outbox for a minute before finally being sent. At that point, you can always go in and edit the email if you decide to change what you originally wrote.

Once you set this up, you will have a 1 minute safety net for your emails. I’m telling you, one day you will thank me for this simple rule. Think about it, if you’ve ever said anything that you regretted 5 minutes after saying it, then this is the rule for you. You get a chance to say it, delay it, and then refine or delete it. It’s brilliant. Go set this up now and let me know what you think. --Now if they can only create something that delays your speech by 1 minute!


PS In case you feel the need to send me a holiday gift after enjoying the Outlook rule so much, iTunes gift certificates are always a good idea, or a pack of Callaway Golf Balls (orange label please). :)

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Web Analytics and Tracking Your Online Marketing Campaigns, Why Starting With a Basic Analytics Foundation is a Smart Way to Go

Web analytics, basic setup and strong foundation.You woke up earlier than usual this morning, eager to start the day. This is not your typical week... You’ve got a new product launching and you are having some final meetings to make sure everything is covered with your online marketing campaigns. In one of your last meetings before the launch, your CMO walks in and says, “Great work on developing the campaign and I’m excited to see the results. When can I expect to see some reporting detailing how each channel is performing?” Crickets chirp… {Since this is my blog post, I have the power to freeze time for 10 minutes so I can explain more about web analytics and help you craft your answer to your CMO. Please continue reading.}

There’s no reason that tracking online marketing campaigns should be an issue, although unfortunately, many times it is. There is a lot of talk about bleeding edge web analytics, and believe me, I’m excited about those advancements. But I would be careful with how you implement your web analytics package, or more importantly, how fast you move to an advanced tracking setup.

I think everyone would agree that it's never a good thing when campaigns go live without the proper tracking and measurement in place. It actually pains me to see that occur…especially knowing how some basic reporting can provide powerful and actionable insights. That's right, I said basic reporting and actionable insights in one sentence. For example, wouldn’t you like to track each aspect of your campaign to see which ones perform best? You can use this data to help you determine how to proceed in future campaigns (or even how to tweak current campaigns that are live). Is paid search generating the most revenue, which categories of keywords within paid search are driving that success, is email marketing generating high click throughs, but low conversion? Are your product pages ranking in natural search, how much traffic is coming from Google, and what’s the conversion rate for specific categories of keywords from organic search? If you think that these questions are hard to answer, you are wrong. I’m here to tell you that with some relatively basic tracking in place, you can find out answers to all of these questions, and more importantly, you can pass those insights to senior management at intervals during the campaign. As you can imagine, having campaign data is extremely valuable (even when it's negative). And, that information is easily digestible by all levels of the organization.

Start with a stable and accurate web analytics foundation and build upon it…
Here’s a quick analogy. You just spent thousands of dollars buying state of the art windows for your home. In addition, you decided to put in hardwood floors throughout the house. That’s great, but you’ve got a small problem. Your foundation is badly cracked. Considering that you need to spend a lot of money trying to fix your foundation, now how do you feel about adding all of the extras? You suddenly don’t seem to care, right? Web Analytics is the same way. What good is jumping to advanced levels of tracking when you can't even get basic performance data?? That's why I always recommend starting with a relatively basic implementation. Then, make sure your reporting is accurate and providing you with actionable information. Once you have a solid web analytics foundation in place, you can enhance it and test the new functionality in bite size pieces. For example, advanced segmentation, event tracking, tracking visitor engagement, implementing an advanced testing platform, etc. I don’t recommend jumping into the most advanced analytics setup right out of the gates. I can tell you with almost 100% certainty that you won’t be in a good place. There will be confusion, disappointment, frustration, and then you’ll probably revert to the basic setup like I recommended in the first place! By that time, you might have wasted countless hours, days, and months trying to get the advanced setup working. Even worse, there may be people in your company that have been using the reporting to make decisions... and decisions based on poor data is not good, to say the least.

What type of information can you get from relatively basic reporting?
Let’s go through a hypothetical campaign so you can see what I’m referring to. Maybe you have a new version of a product launching soon. You’ll be running paid search, display advertising, email marketing, and then optimizing the new section of the website for organic search. You’ve decided to use Google Analytics to track your campaigns and have installed the tracking code on each page of your website. For our example, there are two conversions, an e-commerce sale and an email list signup. You will be running paid search in Google and Yahoo, your display advertising is running on a number of industry-specific websites, you will be blasting out several email campaigns to your segmented in-house list, and you’ve optimized your new pages based on keyword research for natural search. With Google Analytics in place (a package I’ve written about often), you will be able to track each aspect of your campaign to determine the effectiveness of your efforts. With the proper tracking in place, you won't be surfing your web analytics reporting aimlessly for hours. Instead, you will be able to drill into GA and pull relevant information that can help you understand what worked and what didn't.

But Glenn, how do I track my campaigns?
That’s a good question and one I hear often. You’ve already added your GA code to your website, which is the first step. The next step (for our example) is to make sure GA tracks conversions and then revenue. You can learn how to set up conversion goals in Google Analytics here. After you learn how to set up conversion goals, you can read about how to set up e-Commerce tracking. It’s not hard to do and should take your developers a relatively short amount of time to set up. When that’s completed, you will be able to see conversions and revenue by channel (Paid Search, Natural Search, Email Marketing, Display Advertising, etc). Even better, you can drill into your campaigns to see which ad groups are driving the best performance, which keywords, which email creative, which creative elements are working best, etc. For example, you might find that one version of your email creative outperformed other email creative by 65%. That’s the type of powerful information you can glean from even a basic setup like this.

Now, GA natively tracks your AdWords campaigns so you are covered there without any additional tagging. For your other campaigns, you will need to tag your creative using GA’s tracking parameters. You can learn more about how to tag your links here. They are basically querystring parameters that enable GA to identify specific campaigns, and then will enable you to run reports on what those visitors do on your site. So for our example, you would want to tag your Yahoo paid search campaigns, your email marketing campaigns, and your display advertising so they can be uniquely identified by Google Analytics. BTW, I’ve written a post about how to tag your email marketing campaigns so you can track each element clicked in your emails. I’ve also written about tagging YSM campaigns using dynamic variables. Once you tag your campaigns, you can access your reporting within the Campaigns tab in Google Analytics (under Traffic Sources).

But can I really track valuable information with this setup?
You bet, but I’ll let you be the judge. Take a look at the bullets listed below and mark down how many you think would be valuable or important when tracking your campaigns:

*Visitors from each channel and then each campaign within that channel. i.e. Paid Search campaigns, email marketing campaigns, banners, etc.
*Conversions and conversion rate by channel, by campaign, search engine, keyword, email creative, banners, etc.
*e-Commerce revenue by channel, campaign, search engine, keyword, email creative, banner, etc.
*Bounce rate of all campaign landing pages.
*Exit rate of pages within your site and campaign section.
*Conversion Funnel analysis, or where people drop off when trying to complete a conversion.
*Trending over time per channel (and per campaign within each channel.)
*Top products and revenue during the campaign time period.
*Referring websites that are driving traffic to your campaign landing pages, including conversions and revenue from those traffic sources.
*Which geographic regions generate the most revenue or conversion.

I can keep going, but I’ll stop there.

How many bullets did you identify as valuable? I hope all of them (or at least most of them). Once you have this data, you can easily compare the reporting to previous campaigns, you can use it to refine the current campaign (on the fly), or use it to improve future campaigns. It’s actionable data. For example, you might find that display advertising cost you $50,000 and generated only $10,000 in revenue. Drilling into your display advertising, maybe two websites outperformed the others by a huge margin. Maybe you’ll find that paid search generated a 350% ROI. Drilling in further, your brand keywords accounted for most of the revenue and you already rank in natural search for those keywords, so do you need to run brand terms next time? Maybe your email marketing generated a lot of click throughs, but almost no conversion. You also notice a 90% bounce rate from email. Why?

OK, I think you get the picture. You will gain all of the information I listed above, and more, by using a fairly basic analytics setup with some minimal tagging. Can you see why it’s frustrating to some people in web marketing when campaigns go live without the proper analytics setup or tracking in place? Now, would I love to track even more than this by using an elaborate web analytics setup? You bet, but compared to having no tracking in place or unreliable tracking, I would be happy with this level of reporting! Wouldn’t you?

Back to your CMO for a second:
{Now I will unfreeze time so you can answer your CMO.} Earlier in the post, you were ready to answer a question from your CMO about campaign reporting by channel. Now instead of crickets chirping, I hope you’re chomping at the bit to answer his question. Maybe something like this will do, “Tracking? Absolutely, you’ll receive reporting 48 hours into the campaign and then twice per week for the life of the campaign. Then we’ll create a presentation detailing our findings once the campaign ends.” He smiles, and then walks out with a confident look in his eye. You turn around and open Outlook, create a task, and enter “Send Glenn a quick thank you.” ;-)

I’m going to leave you with one last question. If you were the CMO and had 2 senior marketing managers provide you their campaign reporting and one provides you the level of detail that I listed above (from a relatively basic analytics setup), and the other provides you with almost no reporting, or sketchy reporting at best, which one would you allocate more budget to next year?


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